Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has praised the loyalty of the Cologne players who have committed their future to the relegated club, likening the gesture to Gianluigi Buffon's decision to remain at demoted Juventus in 2006.
The Bianconeri were forced to play in Serie B in 2006-07 after their part in the 'Calciopoli' scandal, which involved attempts by club officials to secure the appointment of favourable referees and influence their decisions.
World Cup winners and Juve favourites Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero earned admiration for sticking with the club and helping the team to gain promotion back to the top flight.
Germany international Jonas Hector signed a contract extension with Cologne shortly before their fate was confirmed, and goalkeeper Timo Horn has also stated his intention to stay at RheinEnergieStadion despite the team's relegation to the second tier.
Speaking ahead of Bayern's trip to face the Bundesliga's bottom side on Saturday, Heynckes made his admiration for Cologne's players clear.
Referring to Buffon, the coach of the champions said: "He is an icon in Italian football. That's what the players like Jonas Hector and other players are showing [at Cologne].
"It's a signal for a bit more morals and more affiliation with the club. I think that's great. It shows me that football is not just going in the wrong direction."
Jupp has arrived for today's press conference ahead of tomorrow ️ May 4, 2018
Heynckes is well placed to comment on the value of developing a close affiliation with a team, the 72-year-old having come out of retirement to coach Bayern for a fourth different spell following the departure of Carlo Ancelotti in September.
"This is not a farewell tour for me, that was the second half of 2012-13," he said.
"This is now [a] pleasure in working, a [chance to] help in [a moment of] distress at FC Bayern Munich.
"This is very different with regard to the team, the fans and the club. But I'm happy again when I'm back home with my wife, my dog and our cat.
"But I like to be at [training ground] Sabener Strasse every day because I enjoy working with my players.
"This is special, but nostalgia is not what I want, even if I do not know what it's like when the last curtain falls."
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